(EnergyAsia, May 2 2012, Wednesday) — Latin and Central America’s heavily export-oriented coal mining industry are at risk of losing market share as their customers are demanding cleaner energy sources, said industry intelligence experts GBI Research.

In a new report, GBI Research said Latin and Central American coal exports may decline as a result of tighter  environmental  regulations being imposed by their customers in the US and Europe  that discourage the use of coal-fired power plants.

While Latin and Central America produced a modest 109.9 million metric tons (mt) of coal last year, accounting for just 2% of the world’s total, the region exported around 87 million mt.

It will suffer market share and revenue loss as the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has passed new regulations to reduce carbon emissions by 2014 while the EU has imposed a mandate on member states to raise the share of renewable energy use in their total energy mix to 16% by 2020. At the same time, several European nations are planning to shut down half of their coal-fired power plants that will help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 80%-95% from 1990 levels, by 2050.

Despite these developments, GBI Research said it expects coal production in Latin and Central America to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4% over the next eight years to reach 177.8 million mt by 2020. This growth will be driven mostly by the region’s rapidly expanding industrial sector and growing economies.